Mini Maker Faire entertains kids, students

Vance Shwartz, 2, holds a wand out as the wind blows bubbles during the Mini Maker Faire held in Aggieville on Sept. 10, 2016. (Alanud Alanazi | The Collegian)

Marshmallows littered parts of Moro Street and Manhattan Avenue Saturday as kids shot the small projectile treats through their handmade marshmallow shooters.

A s’mores-filling gang did not infiltrate the city, though.

The third annual Aggieville Mini Maker Faire was held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., where adults and kids alike could learn about architecture, engineering, entomology, beer brewing and more.

More than three dozen vendors and stations were set up in Triangle Park and the two blocks of Aggieville from Rally House to Wahoo Fire and Ice Grill.

A “Mentos fountain” went off every hour, as workers put a capful of the mints in soda to the delight of many children. A kiddie pool full of Legos was also available, in addition to T-shirt making, canvas painting and other craft projects that lined the area.

Manhattan businesses had their fair share of stations at the event, but some Kansas State clubs also had a chance to make an impression on community members and fellow students. Groups like the KSU Amateur Radio Club, the American Nuclear Society and the College of Engineering, among others, hosted stations.

While some kids painted their own art at Straight Upp Creative Studio, others visited the station inside The Dusty Bookshelf hosted by the Popenoe Entomology Club. There, kids could pick their paper and paint colors. Then, members of the club would dip blow fly maggots in the paint, place them on the paper and let them crawl around, making colorful lines on the paper.

“Insects are incredibly important, both as pests and as beneficials, and we just want to raise awareness that not all of them are gross,” Anastasia Cooper, graduate student in entomology, said. “They can be pretty fun and an important part of our environment.”

Ryan Huber, graduate student in mechanical engineering, worked at the College of Engineering station as a member of the Cooling and Heating Innovation Lab, which let kids airbrush designs as art projects. The airbrush used at the Faire is the same kind he uses in his research with condensing water at power plant towers in an effort to get some energy back from the water used at the plants.

He said he liked the event because it gives children a different opportunity to see what they want to be when they are older.

“The kids seem to enjoy (the airbrushing),” Huber said. “I think it helps bring engineering to kids. It’s not like a firefighter or an astronaut; little kids don’t think about being an engineer, but it’s practical and we need a lot of them.”

Jeremy Migneco, a graduate student in architecture who worked the American Institute of Architecture Students station, said he thinks the event serves importance to those attending the university.

“I think it’s a really great opportunity for students of the university to connect with people of the community,” he said. “It makes students feel like they’re home.”

This is the third time the Mini Maker Faire has been held in Aggieville, but the idea is not the creation of the business district. Maker Faire is hosted by Maker Media, producer of “Make:” magazine. The first Faire was held in California 10 years ago and has been growing to different communities each year since. Wichita hosted a similar event in July at Exploration Place.